15 May 1711
John Dennis, from Reflections Critical and Satyrical, upon a late Rhapsody, call'd, An Essay upon Criticism (1711), in Critical Works, i. 396-414. The Reflections were published 20-9 June.
For Pope's manuscript notes towards revisions of the Essay to meet some of Dennis's objections, see Twickenham, i. 482-4. Further see J.V. Guerinot, Pamphlet Attacks on Alexander Pope (1969), pp. 5-11.
A most notorious Instance of [contemporary] Depravity of Genius and Tast, is the Essay upon which the following Reflections are writ, and the Approbation which it has met with. I will not deny but that there are two or three Passages in it with which I am not displeas'd; but what are two or three Passages as to the whole?… The approving two or Three Passages amongst a multitude of bad ones, is by no means advantageous to an Author. That little that is good in him does but set offits contrary, and make it appear more extravagant. The Thoughts, Expressions, and Numbers of this Essay are for the most part but very indifferent, and indifferent and execrable in Poetry are all one. But what is worse than all the rest, we find throughout the whole a deplorable want of that very Quality, which ought principally to appear in it, which is Judgment; and I have no Notion that where there is so great a want of Judgment, there can be any Genius…
[After an introduction, from which the preceding is taken, Dennis prints a long letter he had written on An Essay on Criticism 'To Mr-at Sunning-Hill, Berks., ' of which the following is part.]